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Journalists criticise Broadcasting Bill

By Vision Reporter

Added 2nd March 2005 03:00 AM

JOURNALISTS associations have criticised The Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) Bill, 2004, saying it is advocating a state rather than a public broadcaster.

JOURNALISTS associations have criticised The Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) Bill, 2004, saying it is advocating a state rather than a public broadcaster.

By Joyce Namutebi

JOURNALISTS associations have criticised The Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) Bill, 2004, saying it is advocating a state rather than a public broadcaster.

The associations are the Uganda Journalists Association (UJA), Uganda Media Development Foundation (UMDF), the National Institute for Journalists of Uganda (NIJU) and the Eastern Africa Media Institute (EAMI).

In their submission to the committee on presidential and parliamentary affairs, the journalists said, “whereas the Bill is touted as ushering in a public service broadcaster, the contents actually establish a state broadcaster.”

UMDF coordinator John Bosco Mayiga, said yesterday at The New Vision that the Bill does not conform to the known principles of a public broadcaster, particularly by the Windhoek +10 Declaration on broadcasting and the draft National Broadcasting Policy of Uganda.

“Why don’t we wait for the National Broadcasting Policy to be in place to guide subsequent laws?” he asked.

The Bill, currently under scrutiny by Parliament, seeks to merge the state-owned Uganda Television and Radio Uganda under UBC, which would be autonomous and self-sustaining through retention of revenue generated from advertisements and television license fees.

Mayiga said the draft National Broadcasting Policy establishes the tier of public broadcasting, which seeks to introduce a viable, independent, professionally-run broadcaster accountable to the public to ensure efficiency and quality programming.

He said the Government should state in the Bill whether it wants a public or state broadcaster.

He also said journalists felt the question of ownership of UBC should be cleared.

“The Bill vests whole ownership of the corporation in the hands of the Government. Our position is that a public service broadcaster should be owned by the public, not government,” the associations said.

The journalists also objected to a provision that would allow UBC to distribute signals.

They also opposed payment of television viewing license fees to a state broadcaster.

They opposed the appointment of the Board of Directors by the minister, saying such a board would not be independent and accountable to the people.

The journalists proposed that renumeration of the Board be determined by a more representative body such as Parliament.

Journalists criticise Broadcasting Bill

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